Republican David Vitter and Democrat John Bel Edwards were in Baton Rouge on Friday to highlight key endorsements they’ve won in the governor’s race.
Vitter held an event at Pelican House where the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small-business lobby group, announced its endorsement.
Across town and earlier in the day, Edwards, flanked by sheriffs from across the state, touted his endorsement from the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association from earlier in the week. Later, his campaign announced that several mayors, including New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, had also endorsed his campaign.
Edwards and Vitter face each other in a heated head-to-head runoff Nov. 21, after placing first and second, respectively, in the Oct. 24 primary.
Two endorsements neither has received yet: Republicans Scott Angelle and Jay Dardenne, who were targeted with negative political ads from Vitter’s campaign.
The two former gubernatorial candidates did not attend Vitter’s “Together, Louisiana Strong” rally, which was decorated with Louisiana GOP banners and featured other high-profile Republican officials. A GOP “unity” rally last year after the U.S. Senate primary featured Republican candidate Rob Maness’ endorsement of eventual winner Bill Cassidy, after Maness failed to make the runoff against Mary Landrieu.
Cassidy’s wife, Laura, who attended Vitter’s event Friday in her husband’s place, alluded to the bitter battle that preceded the primary.
“I know there are hard feelings, but this is not about the past. This is about the future,” she said.
Others onstage in support of Vitter included Congressmen John Fleming and Ralph Abraham, state Treasurer John Kennedy and Vitter’s wife, Wendy, among others.
Dawn Starns, state director of NFIB, said backing Vitter was an easy choice for her group.
“Sen. Vitter has been a staunch defender of small business,” she said.
Vitter said he was thankful for the support of small-business owners — “the heart and soul” of the state.
“It means so much because of who NFIB is and who they represent throughout Louisiana,” he said.
On Thursday, Vitter announced endorsements from the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and several Acadiana-area lawmakers.
The sheriffs, meanwhile, said they believe Edwards, whose brother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather have all served as sheriffs, is the right candidate for public safety.
“Integrity and character is what I see in John Bel Edwards,” said Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack.
Gary Bennett, the retired sheriff of West Carroll Parish, said the vote to endorse Edwards was “overwhelming.”
Mitch Landrieu, a Democrat and former lieutenant governor who once was considered a possible candidate for governor, had not endorsed anyone in the run-up to Saturday’s primary, even though Edwards was the only major Democrat.
“John Bel Edwards will be a partner with local governments and will help turn the state budget around,” he said in a statement. “With public safety and criminal justice as my top priority, I also know that John Bel will help us in our fight against violent crime. He has the support of the law enforcement community, and he will also be an honest and hardworking governor that will put the people of our state first.”